|Volume 22 Number 7 July 2020||
Ernest S. Underwood
There is on cable television a channel that shows the big things of man (i.e., manmade things). It is interesting to see some of the accomplishments of man. The host of the program travels all over the world to see and to operate, when possible, some of the great machines built by man. He showed viewers a giant drill that carves tunnels in mountains. Then, there is the big open pit copper mine somewhere in Scandinavia with all of its extremely large machines used to dig and haul out the ore. Space does not permit the listing of all such things that he has shown, but suffice it to say, it is a most interesting program, at least to me.
However, as I watch the program, I am made to think of just how small these things are compared to the works of Almighty God. For instance, what about Genesis 1:1, which reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? Now that is big! How does this compare to the greatest accomplishment of man at any time in man’s history? Again, what about God’s great work of bringing a universal flood upon the earth? Would man ever be able to do such a thing? On one of the programs, the host went to Arizona to visit the world’s largest telescope. As I viewed it, the one thing I didn’t assume or think was that the telescope came into existence by evolution. It took a lot of brain power to even think of such a thing, much less to design and to build it. Yet, what can it do? It can look farther into the heavenly universe that Almighty God created as He spoke it into existence. I think we all could agree that one is small in comparison to the other.
To my mind, the greatest, most spectacular and beneficial thing that God has ever done is to provide His creature—man—with the means to have his sins forgiven, with the possibility of dwelling eternally with Him. How could a holy God reach down to sinful man to lift him out of the mire of that sin so that man could have fellowship with Him? Of course, this is the story of the Bible, and a wonderful and beautiful account it is.
The key verse that lets us know of the greatness of this feat is John 3:16. Here Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Look at the third word in this passage, the word “so.” Where is the human mind that can fathom the height, depth and sum total of that little word? Yet, there was absolutely no other way that God could accomplish man’s salvation. When man sinned in the Garden of Eden, the violent, physical death of the Christ was so determined that it was spoken of as a thing of the present. When God spoke to Satan, represented by the serpent, He told him, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” The bruising of “His heel” applied to Christ and was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross. When He arose from the dead, He forever bruised the head of Satan, taking away his power to hold man in the bondage of sin.
One last thing: man, with all of his rituals, opinions, feelings and doctrines, makes the salvation God has offered a difficult thing for man to accomplish. Which one of the creed books, rituals or encyclicals is man to follow? If he follows one and fails to follow another, will he be saved or lost? The great thing about God’s Gospel plan is its simplicity. The common man can read, study and learn the requirements given by Jesus and His apostles—then obey them and have the remission of sins. How great is God’s Gospel? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
Friends, shouldn’t we be following the great things of God, rather than wallowing in the puny and small things concocted in the minds of men?
I Don’t Even Like You
T. Pierce Brown
That’s what he said. The words, plain and sharp, were spoken with a smile, and for a moment I thought, “He’s just kidding,” because he has a wet sense of humor (in contradistinction to those who have a dry one). Then, I realized he really meant it! Here was a preacher whom I liked and even admired who said he did not like me! What should my response be?
The first thing that came to my mind was, “It does not matter too much, as long as you love me,” so I said it. He did not reply to that, so I was left with the problem of how to react. I asked myself the question, “Why do you like and admire him?” There were several reasons. First, he is a Christian gentleman, albeit blunt at times. Second, he is a thoughtful Bible student, sound in the faith and concerned about the lost and the kingdom of God. Then, a simple truth came to mind that might be of value to you. The fact that he did not like me in no way changed those things about him that caused me to like and admire him in the first place. In fact, it may have added a third and fourth.
He apparently was more astute and discerning than the average person, for he was able to see in me something that the average person did not see, for the average person seems to like me. Fourth, there was no sense of hypocrisy or dissembling about him. He was unwilling to pretend that he liked me when he did not. He is the kind of person who could read an article of mine and say, “I think it is hogwash” and give me his honest criticism of it without dissimulation. In my judgment, those kinds of persons are all too rare. I have had persons who seemed to like me as long as they felt they could use or manipulate me for their own purposes, but when they could not, they seemed to dislike me.
Then another principle of great importance occurred to me. No person should allow the likes or dislikes of another person to unduly control his responses, attitudes and actions. I make my own decisions about whom I like or dislike, based on predetermined qualities. Suppose he did not like fried chicken? I might think that was unusual or peculiar in a preacher, but it certainly would not change my basic respect and admiration for him, nor make me like him any less.
So, the fact that he does not like me saddens me a little, for I will not impose my presence on him as I might have, hoping for some spiritual insight from him. For as I weigh my selfish desire to be where he is to gain some good from him against my unwillingness to inflict upon him the distasteful experience of having to be around me, I think it proper to submit to his wish rather than make him submit to mine. If I knew he did not like fried chicken, I would not deliberately impose it upon him.
Therefore, although I may lose something in the long run because he does not like me, there are some things I do not have to lose. One is my respect and admiration for a good Gospel preacher who is neither ashamed nor afraid to speak the truth as he sees it. Second, I do not have to be hurt personally simply because a person I like does not like me. One’s likes or dislikes do not have to be rationally explained. Some persons probably do not like turnip greens and corn bread, but that is their problem, not mine. Third, I do not have to lose my own independence and sense of responsibility by allowing my responses to be controlled by some other person’s attitude. To the degree that we allow another person to make us respond in some particular way, to that degree we are like puppets on a string. My Lord and Savior is the only One who has the right to control my responses. Fifth, I do not have to lose my self-respect or esteem because I may have lost his. His likes or dislikes of someone is not what determines their worth, no matter how good or wise he may be.
If both you and I have gained anything from this experience, and the recounting of it, the effort took to write this article was well spent. Remember that the Master said, “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).